Communications leader helps give voice to GE/Bently and chamber |

Communications leader helps give voice to GE/Bently and chamber

Joel Burbank is a member of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Authority board of directors. He works for GE/Bently as the communications leader, GE optimization services.

– Name, age, job title: Joel Burbank, 31, Communications Leader, GE Optimization Services.

– Where are you originally from? I was born in Big Spring, Texas. Between being raised as an Air Force brat, serving in the Army myself for 5 years, and being with General Electric for nearly 4 years, I’ve moved 12 times and have lived in 10 states spanning the entire country. Home seems to be wherever we’re living at present.

– How long have you been in Carson Valley? A year-and-a-half.

– What originally brought you to Carson Valley? I relocated to the Carson Valley with GE. Prior to moving to the Valley, I worked for GE

in upstate NY. When I first heard about the opportunity here I thought, “Nevada?!? What the heck is in Nevada?” Then I came out and interviewed, saw the mountains and Lake Tahoe, and was immediately sold on living here. This area must be one of the best kept secrets in the country.

– What are your job responsibilities? What is a typical day’s schedule? Who is your boss? I’m responsible for employee communications and public affairs and I report to Jeff Bucklew, HR Leader for GE Optimization Services. In a nutshell, I work with business leaders and employees to help make sure everyone is on the same sheet of music. GE is such a fast-paced, ever-changing company, and it’s important that everyone know where the company is headed and how they contribute to our success. I also work to help the community understand what we’re all about. There’s been a lot of speculation in the Valley about what would happen to Bently Nevada once GE bought the company, and it’s my job to help people understand that GE is committed to growing the business and supports the community in which we live and work. There’s really no such thing as a typical day. On any given day, I may be working on a strategic internal communication plan, meeting with a representative from a local college or university, talking to a local non-profit organization … you name it. That’s what I like about this job. It’s what keeps it interesting.

– As a chamber director, what do you bring to the table? And what would your ideal future for the Valley be? Since I’m still so new to the area, I don’t think I’m as emotionally attached to some of the more controversial issues that the Valley is experiencing right now. As such, I try to bring a fresh perspective to the table. With a background in business communications, my goal is to help drive a better flow of two-way dialogue between the Chamber, its members, and the community in general on issues that affect both the immediate and long-term economic health of the Valley. In a word, my vision for the Valley is “balance.” It may sound sappy, but I really enjoy the morning commute past cows and hawks with the sunrise on the mountains, and I’ve gotten a huge kick out of having a bear come down to the water’s edge while I’m fishing from a float tube. At the same time, we have to accept that growth is going to happen. It’s inevitable. It’s going to take a concerted effort, cool heads, and a lot of cooperation to make it work.

– What is the No. 1 priority or goal set for your job? My number one priority is to help our employees understand what’s going on in our business. In addition to Bently Nevada, GE Optimization Services includes several businesses that are relatively new to GE. GE is a fast-paced and very dynamic culture. Change is part of who we are. But, change can be stressful. My #1 goal is to help our employees around the world understand why our business operates the way it does and what we all need to do to better meet the needs of our customers and shareholders.

– What is a little-known fact about your job? What is a common misconception about your company? The biggest misconception about GE is that we’re just a light bulb or refrigerator company. It’s fun to see someone’s eyebrows raise when they learn that GE has more than 300,000 employees around the world and that our business includes NBC and divisions that offer, among other things, locomotives, aircraft engines, CT scanners, wind turbines, and tons of other products and services. It really is an amazing company.

– In your spare time, what activities do you enjoy? I fish whenever I can, though it’s never as much as I’d like. I also swim with the Carson Valley Masters swimming team at 5:30 in the morning several days a week. It’s a great group of people and a lot of fun. They’re all quite insane for getting up that early and diving into cold water. Most importantly, I just like to be with my wife and kids. That’s really the most fun of all.

– Do you have family? I’m married to the greatest lady on the planet, Holly, and this month we’re celebrating our 8th anniversary. We have two fantastic kids; our daughter is 7 and our son is 5.

– Who is your role model? My dad and brother have been tremendous role models for me. My dad, an Air Force Academy grad, flew in combat in Vietnam and served in the Air Force for 20 years. My brother, who graduated from West Point a couple of years after me, is an Army Captain and Blackhawk pilot who returned recently from serving in Iraq. They, and people like them, who have been so willing to lay everything on the line for us in selfless service really are owed a debt of gratitude that can never fully be paid. Makes a bad day at the office pale in comparison when I think what they’ve been through. If you ever see a vet or someone in uniform, just say “Thank you.” It’s the least we can do.

– What is your favorite song or artist? Either Hemispheres or Natural Science, by Rush. Just great. You simply don’t hear stuff like that anymore.

Interview conducted by Staff Writer Regina Purcell. To nominate someone for the Movers & Shakers feature, contact News Editor Sally J. Taylor at or (775) 782-5121 ext. 215.